The 5 Newest Ways To Engage Learners

The 5 Newest Ways To Engage Learners
Summary: A Gallup report shows only 32 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work. This makes the training professional's job especially hard. Here's how to engage learners and get them to think less about their next lunch break and more about how they can contribute to your team's success.

How To Engage Learners In Corporate Training

When was the last time you thought about engagement? In 2009, a Gallup State of the American Workplace report came out that showed organizations that were able to successfully engage both customers and employees could experience a 240 percent boost in performance-related business gains. But it would seem most organizations have not gotten the word. Six years later, another Gallup report showed only 32 percent of U.S. employees were engaged. 32 percent! This means two thirds of the American workforce is essentially checked out.

Still, there’s good news. If you believe Gallup’s research, which suggests an organization’s innovations, growth, and revenue is strongly tied to its workers’ level of engagement, the low engagement of many US workers presents a competitive opportunity for businesses that are willing to take the extra steps necessary to inspire greater enthusiasm across their workforces.

A big part of this comes down to giving your workers the know-how to do their jobs more effectively. Corporate training, when done properly, can be a business driver in its own right. (To be sure, 42 percent of companies say eLearning has led to an increase of revenue.)

So, the next time you host an eLearning session, here are some of newest and most proven ways to engage learners:

1. Know Your Audience

First and foremost, before a single word is added to a lesson, training processionals must think about ways to communicate the information in a way that shows how this new knowledge not only supports the company but the learner’s own career. Of course, before this can be accomplished, you must know your audience. Who will be attending your session? Are they younger or older? Are they tech savvy or resistant to change? Are they bubbly marketing folks or engineers who tend to work alone? Find out. At the same time, you want to make sure you know your tools inside out to ensure you’re able to make full use of your technical capabilities when designing your program.

2. Consider The Visual Elements

As you begin work on your lesson plan or script, you’ll want to consider the visual elements – not only in how instructors present their material, but how they present themselves. This helps draw people in while increasing memory retention. Discard the PowerPoint in favor of video and animations that tell a story. This includes incorporating themes, callbacks, and even plotting that bring to the lesson a sense of progression that can trigger our natural affection for well-crafted storytelling.

3. Make Sure The Learner Is Part Of The Story, Too

This means gamifying the lesson to create both rivalry and collaboration among learners, but also adding such elements as role play, which allows leaders to interact on a more personal level with the instructor, the material, and other leaners. If the lesson involves resolving certain challenges, incorporate a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story flow that directly involves learners while showing them both the pitfalls and payoffs of proper decision-making.

4. Offer The Anonymous Chat Option

And be sure to keep this in mind: Being engaged doesn’t necessarily mean being publicly engaged. If your eLearning platform comes with an anonymous chat feature, use it. Whether you’re conducting sexual harassment training or simply want to allow learners to ask the “dumb” questions without being ridiculed by their co-workers, anonymous chat can be a powerful tool for engaging learners.

5. Keep In Mind That Engagement Doesn’t End When The Lesson Is Over

A big part of virtual training means not merely providing knowledge, but delivering that knowledge again as soon as it’s needed. As I mentioned in my last eLearning Industry article (Surprise! Your Workers Want to Learn), when workers encounter challenges with a particular task, they often go straight to YouTube where they can quickly pull up relevant tutorials and then skip to the snippet they need. This is an important form of microlearning that all organizations need to embrace. By making your material available to learners later (especially in the form of short, searchable videos and other brief but rich content) and then linking them to other longer formats for deeper learning, you’ll be contributing to a lesson’s impact on the business long after the lesson’s first given.

Remember, if you want to engage learners and the knowledge to stick, look at all the ways you can foster stronger engagement.

Happy training, folks!